Ghost Fleet underscores ship recycling hazards

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Author: Bill Coffin
Date: Dec. 2003
From: Risk Management(Vol. 50, Issue 12)
Publisher: Sabinet Online
Document Type: Article
Length: 787 words

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Old soldiers never die, They just fade away, or so the saying goes. Were that only the case in Virginia's James River, home of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, a flotilla of aging and decrepit government ships also known as the "Ghost Fleet."

In September, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) arranged to have 13 of these ships towed to a facility in England where they would be recycled. Environmental activists from both sides of the Atlantic have sharply criticized the plan for the risks it poses. For the moment, they have filed enough legal action and raised enough political opposition to persuade a federal judge to block any exportation of Ghost Fleet until further environmental studies are conducted.

Perhaps more importantly, the Ghost Fleet's ongoing troubles have put a spotlight on the dangerous nature of the ship recycling industry, particularly on the negative environmental and worker safety impact that might be caused if the United States begins exporting more of its ships to other countries for disposal.

The Ghost Fleet was created in 1925 to serve as a big floating parking lot where the United States could hold government ships until they were needed again. Today,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A111617563